Having been writing erotica for several years now, I'm rather annoyed that the media seem to represent 'Fifty Shades' as the first erotic book ever written, or written for women, or by a woman. ('Story of O', anyone? Anais Nin?)
Opinion seems to be polarised. On the one hand there are the nay-sayers. It's really badly written, it isn't Anna Karenina, there are some annoying verbal tics (like the way the heroine keeps saying 'Aargh', a vocalisation more usual in the esteemed pages of the Dandy and the Beano).
On the other hand there are the pro-Greys. They praise the plot, the sex, the fact that they get off on it. They don't (and this might be important) praise the writing or the characterisation, for the most part.
From what I've seen, the book is pretty competently written. It's not Ulysses, it's not Hamlet, it's not the Aeneid or Dante's Divine Comedy, and to be honest, what is? I don't hear people dissing Chuck Palaniuk because he's not Cormac McCarthy.
I just have two problems with the book.
First, the heroine. Argh! (you might say) - what a limp, characterless, dim little bimbo. I really hate this kind of erotica. (It seems quite widespread, perhaps along the lines that fat, plain, frumpish readers want to read about fat, plain, frumpish girls getting soundly fucked. Unfortunately they don't have the wit or the appealing eccentrities of the original, Miss Bridget Jones.)
And secondly, the fact that it's not really serious S&M. Cable ties? Surely not! And to my taste, it doesn't really explore the emotional territory that goes with bondage and domination - the feeling of danger blended with trust. You can get a lot closer to that just by putting on a blindfold and having a friend guide you around the house with it on - something actors often do as a trust exercise in the early stages of rehearsals. To be honest, I felt anyone who has done any sort of mask work as an actor, or used trust games of this sort, understands more about S&M than Mr Grey, who is just a pervy sort of Gordon Gecko.
Yes, I'm annoyed that the press thinks '50 Shades' is the be-all and end-all of erotica. And I do wish I made a bit more money at the writing game. Perhaps if I did a '50 shades of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap', with a murder mystery set in a dungeon, or '50 shades of pink' (the Lesbian version), I'd make a fortune... But heck, I'm going to carry on doing what I'm doing - writing my own imaginations and my own fantasies. Because that's what writers do.
Disclosure: No, I haven't read the whole series. But I have read quite a few chapters, and quite a lot of the comment on the books.